I said goodbye to a collegue, a man whose friendship I treasure and whose wisdom and grounding in Truth encouraged me at work. He retired. Bon voyage, Art. I will miss your greetings across campus, "How ya doin' Sis?!" Grace is made greater when friendships are centered around His faithfulness.
I honored a classmate's passing; again cancer rears its ugly head and wins the earthly battle, but eternity is a victory. I didn't know him in school, yet I knew him in what we shared; God, classmate friends, family love, a neighborhood and The Dodgers. RIP Alan. I now have two new friends, your son and daughter. Grace is made greater when we can serve one another.
February 27th this year fell on Monday. Ten years ago, it was on a Tuesday. Myself, my husband and my youngest son received the heart-breaking news that our oldest son, our brother, did not survive the clutches of a deteriorating disease he suffered with most his life. He was only 26. His name is Timothy. Grace, my emulsion, my strength, my soul-giving breath continues to guide me and strengthen me to understand a God who is great, a God who is good. Even in the darkest of times, God's grace is greater.
In my time with my writing group this week, our prompt for our journal session was to write about grace, its impact on our life. Well, I kidded with the my writing partner who penned this particular opening segment of our curriculum...
"I wrote a whole book already on that subject!"
She laughed along with me, knowing that "grace" in itself, is what we all write about in every word we attempt to put together to makes sentences, to explain our insignificant lives--but how He in His grace set upon and in us, changes us. He makes us significant and continues to do so.
So, I wrote and in my "not allowed editorializing" before I shared my words, I stated that this might just be the beginning of another book of my amazing moments with God who so lovingly shows me His care of my heart concerning the loss of my son. His visible grace I received on a day marking a 10-year anniversary and I serve a God who lavishes lovingkindness on me and delivers my soul in a very clear yet personal way. So Amazing. So thankful. So Good.
Dylan. He is 20 now, so that would make him 10 years old when we first moved here, just 5 short months after Timmy died. We shared this townhouse, his family on the other side of our common wall. Dylan and his brother Jordan came over frequently, to love on us and share with us. Their mom and dad, Raul and Ronda became like family.We felt for the first time in many years like we were "home." That was so God. He graced us with this home, orchestrating this place...these neighbors, so we could settle in, so we might grieve surrounded by His care and love. It DOES come generously in His servants.We love those two boys, and I believe God placed us here, next door to the Zavaletas for His purpose and comfort.
So now, ten years later, my husband and I plan a half-day at Disneyland, dinner somewhere--just be together to remember the day Tim went to heaven. It rained, poured hard all the way to the Park, but stopped as we parked following the car in front of us. We merged from our vehicle as the occupants next to us do the same--Dylan, and his girlfriend, randomly parking right next to us in the biggest parking lot in the country. After the laughs, selfie-taking, and chit-chat, they went on their way and we did the same. I felt God...I heard God say to me...
"Remember...not just Timmy, but how I chose to bless you, give you comfort in your grief. I moved you to a better place, a good place, and surrounded you with love. Dylan is that reminder, of 10 years in your home and 10 years of seeking Me and allowing Me to love you and show you My glory."
I knew we would have a good day.
We chose ESPN Zone to have dinner, a place represented by sports, fans and good food, three things my son loved. The server walked us to a booth right in the middle of the restaurant with a clear view of the huge TV, the LA Kings skating against the Minnesota Wild. Ted and I ordered and as I enjoyed a glass of wine, I read the scrolling trivia atop the screen, the "Did you know" questions and answers zipping by as the defense and offence slashed across the ice below.
"Did you know that Barry Bonds holds the home run record of 762 runs in his career?
As a matter of fact, I DID know that, because a chapter in my book recollects that moment he hit that ball, achieved that record the summer we moved, the summer right after Tim's death...the summer I thought a lot about heaven.
Then those dates scroll along...1954-1980.
I have to wait another 10 minutes for the board to repeat itself so I could see those dates again. Those dates...get its content. I knew what they meant to me.
1954, the year I was born. 1980, the year Tim was born.
..."but he does not hold the world record. That is held by Sunahara Oh, a Japanese player who out hit Barry Bonds by 160 home runs in a career spanning from 1954-1980."
I take a picture on the next loop with my cell phone.
Later that night, I would ask my husband, Ted, what he thought that meant--seeing those two dates, those years on that screen as we were "celebrating" a heavenly birthday. Ten years of hearing from God and receiving His grace and comfort in so, so many significant and amazing ways--I am always the one to interpret, to know the meaning, to ponder and recognize.
But not this time. I asked Ted, not even trying to analyze it. I asked the father of our son to tell me what Our Father meant by showing me those dates.
"God's showing you the bond between a mother and a son, that He understands and knows you miss him. You and Timmy--together, forever."
(Did he know he used the word "bond?"...that was unintentional, right)?
God is so Good. His lovingkindness towards me is great! Greater than a huge parking lot with thousands of cars and people. Greater than cheering crowds and professional hockey players and broadcast capabilities. Greater than Disneyland and rain storms and home run records!
His lovingkindness is greater than my grief. For I have experienced the depths of that emotion and God has delivered me from the part that leaves me feeling alone, insignificant, angry, questioning, worthless, empty, fearful...doubting. He made Tim's time here significant. Grace does that. Grace continues to do that. He keeps giving and showing me beauty in this ugliness of what we call death. For death in grace is only an earthly, flesh, temporary departure. Death in Christ is a home run straight to eternity. That is something so significant, one can't help but proclaim His goodness, scroll it out in the words and actions of my heart.
Thank You Lord for your grace, your lovingkindness towards me. Thank You for the grace that saved my son and brought him to eternity where we will see each other again in Your Glory. Thank You for giving me such amazing moments that point to Your lovingkindness towards all who believe in You and seek You in their time of great need. With all my heart, I cannot thank You enough for Your gift of grace, an undeserved favor from You, the Holy One, my Creator and Giver of all things good. Help me Lord to also be a grace-giver in these times when Your lovingkindness is needed in so many dark places. You are good, Amen.
Your Grace Finds Me ~ Matt Reddman